Why CFOs should prioritize energy efficiency

Ignoring energy conservation means leaving money on the table.

Chances are that you’re thinking right now about how to work smarter – how to get more done in your business, more efficiently, so more dollars can go towards growing the business. From automation to better business intelligence tools, CFOs are consistently on the hunt for ways to improve the bottom line and drive growth.
 
So, why leave money on the table?
 
The financial savings from energy-efficiency projects can give you the capital you’ve been looking for to put towards new innovation.

Reduce costs, stay competitive

In nearly every business, energy is a major opportunity to reduce costs. Energy costs represent one of the biggest expenses in an organization – but with the right energy conservation measures, it’s a controllable one.

 
The amount of potential savings depends on your willingness to invest in energy-saving projects, but even relatively low-cost initiatives can lead to major savings. IKEA, for example, simply upgraded the lighting in its Ontario stores to more energy-efficient LED bulbs – a move that by itself saves the retailer $75,000 per year on energy costs.
 
Finding the right opportunities is as simple as working with a qualified professional to get an energy audit. With the right incentives, the payback period on major energy-efficiency projects can be as short as two or three years.
 
Beyond your month-to-month bills, energy-efficiency projects can drive up the total value of your property and operations. Plus, they can reduce ongoing maintenance costs and risks like equipment downtime – a big win for CFOs who recognize that risk management responsibilities are increasingly falling to the finance function.

Lead smart decision making

With the right systems in place, energy-saving projects are also an opportunity to gather data and insights to make timely, relevant decisions that ultimately help your bottom line.
 
Fiat Chrysler, for example, has a 24-hour assembly plant in Windsor where it uses ongoing energy data to maximize savings. The plant’s energy manager uses real-time data to make informed decisions about how and when to run chillers, air compressors and other equipment. Together with other energy-saving initiatives, the plant is saving six figures a year in energy costs.

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Reduce turnover

Talent retention remains a concern for CFOs across North America. There’s no doubt that turnover costs money, so anything that keeps employees content is a benefit. Improvements that make your business more energy efficient also have an impact on employee health, safety and wellness – all of which can boost productivity and ultimately, your company’s bottom line.
 
Energy efficiency can even foster an environment of greater purpose and teamwork. Home Depot, for example, gamified its energy-efficiency efforts, turning the endeavour into a team-building activity that boosted morale.  

Drive value for your brand

CFOs control the purse strings, but that mandate is quickly evolving to include other types of influence. One study of Canadian CFOs found that almost 60 per cent were taking on more responsibility for the ethics of decision-making in support of their company’s purpose.
 
Energy efficiency is a natural fit for this shifting role, as sustainability factors into an organization’s purpose. Committing to energy efficiency is a signal to your shareholders, customers and employees that you’re committed to running the organization as effectively and efficiently as possible, which adds value to your organization’s brand.  
 
Ultimately, energy efficiency can help you make the most of your role to conserve costs, while still acting as a champion for innovation, your employees and your brand. 

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